Thursday, October 14, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 14: Morlocks

Real World Origin:
Literature, The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells

In-Universe Description:
In Well's novel, the Time Traveler voyages to the year 802,701. The society he knew is long gone, replaced by the peaceful civilization of the diminutive Eloi. The Eloi are strangely incurious and live lives of leisure. All their needs are accommodated by mysterious caretakers.

The Time Traveler eventually discovers that another race, the Morlocks, live underground where they maintain the machinery that apparently allows the Eloi to live in their paradise. These beings cannot tolerate bright light and do not come to the surface except on moonless nights. The Time Traveler assumes that the Eloi are descended from the upper class whereas the Morlocks are derived from the lower, working classes. Further investigation reveals the true relationship between the two societies: the Eloi are simply pampered cattle for the flesh-eating Morlocks.

Although George Pal's film version of The Time Machine (1960) slightly modified Well's storyline, the Morlocks remained essentially as they were depicted in the novel. The 2002 version of The Time Machine significantly altered the Eloi/Morlock relationship; the Eloi were well aware that the Morlocks preyed on them and built shelters in a futile attempt to defend themselves. The Morlocks still disliked the light, but were able to come to the surface shortly after sundown. The Morlocks were also divided into castes: large ape-like warriors that were used for heavy labor and for subduing Eloi, smaller large-eyed seekers that used dart guns to mark Eloi for capture, and the so-called "Uber-Morlocks" that telepathically controlled the rest of the Morlock race.

In The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter's sequel to the original novel, the Morlocks are transformed by the effect that the Time Traveler's journeys have on history. Although physically identical to the vicious creatures the Time Traveler met the first time he visited the future, in the altered timeline they have become a hyper-advanced and peaceful race. One of these Morlocks, Nebogipfel, even becomes the hero's traveling companion as he attempts to return to his own time.

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